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Sunday, June 7, 2015

You, Me, and Mr. Al (zheimer)

Growing old is both wonderful and very frightening. On the one hand you only get to be an old person if you have extremely good luck. You are living through, and making history. I tell my children and grandchildren, and my great grandchildren that I lived life during a time when the world did not have even one computer, or smart phone, and worst of all, there was no facebook. They all answer in unison with the question: How? That, young ones is a good question.

There are so many things waiting to kill us. A simple drive to the supermarket is fraught with danger, and once there the things we put in our shopping cart are out to get us. Butter or margarine, eggs or not, killer cigarette suspects, etc, etc, etc. If what we put into our own bodies don't cut our lives short, then there are the terrorists who want to use us to try and make their very bizarre points. There are so many barriers to old age that it is one of life's modern miracles that more and more of us are crossing the 100 year line, and in good health.

There is one thing, however, that gives me real cause for worry, and that is the possibility of losing my mental faculties to Alzheimer's disease. As our bodies age parts begin to suffer as a result of wear and tear. It should be no surprise that the brain will start to lose its operating sharpness. I have been told that the memory is the first thing to lose its edge, and once that starts there is no way to slow down the process, let alone to reverse the slippage. I suppose that once we use our minds less we lose the sharpness. Perhaps a case of use it or lose it.

During my working years as an insurance accountant I held a head full of numbers. I had instant recall with telephone numbers. I calculated sums in my head without effort, whether plus, minus divide or percentages. I was my own computer. Now, I have to stop and think hard, and usually I resort to my handheld calculator and computer.

I don't know if it is true or not that the slippery slope into Alzheimer's syndrome is something without control, but a long time ago I noticed that certain people who had reached an advanced age, but who remained busy using their minds seemed wonderfully healthy. People such as musicians, particularly classical concert performers were outstanding in their control over their faculties at eighty and ninety years of age. Clearly they were constantly using their brains, so I am following their examples by, among other activities challenging myself to write these blogs to put my opinions in written form. I am astonished by the number of followers I have. Each and every one of you are so precious to me, but I do this principally for my own personal mental health. 

My late mother-in-law, who was a delightful woman, spent much of her time doing crossword puzzles to the extent of professional level. Her mind remained sharp to the end, which is more evidence that by using her mind she held off Mr. Alzheimer and remained in control.

I suppose that I could do all sorts of research to see what the scientists have to say but I do not set myself up as any kind of expert or guide in matters of this sort, but the common sense angle appeals to me, and so I have deliberately set myself on a course of physical fitness by attending the gym twice weekly, and Pilateus once a week. I read, write, and I pay attention to images; I live in a land that is foreign to me so I study the language every say, and I am determined to fight on.

Use it or lose it!

There's hope for us all.

Copyright (c) 2015  Eugene Carmichael 

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